Sunday 21 January 2018

Council scraps cone-tentious plan

An upsurge of opposition against council plans to prevent a cone being placed on Glasgow's Wellington statue (pictured) has forced a U-turn by city bosses
An upsurge of opposition against council plans to prevent a cone being placed on Glasgow's Wellington statue (pictured) has forced a U-turn by city bosses

Plans to raise a statue to stop traffic cones being placed on its head have been withdrawn after a public outcry.

Thousands of people signed an online petition saying the cone on the Duke of Wellington monument has become part of the city's landscape.

The council planned to spend £65,000 in a refurbishment proposal aimed at ending the practice of placing a cone on the figure's head, which it said projects a "depressing" image of Glasgow.

It said it wanted to deter people from tampering with the statue outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Royal Exchange Square, by raising the plinth on which it stands to 6ft (1.8m) and "deter all but the most determined of vandals".

The petition, organised by Donna Yates and Gavin Doig, attracted more than 10,000 signatures and a Facebook page set up to "save the cone" has had 45,000 likes.

A council spokesman said today: "The wording of the report was appalling and the leader of the council has instructed officers to withdraw the planning application."

The statue was sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844 to mark the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Over the years, students and other revellers have placed an orange traffic cone on Wellington's head, making it an almost-permanent feature of the statue.

According to the council, the cost of removing the cone each time is £100.

"The cone on Wellington's head is an iconic part of Glasgow's heritage, and means far more to the people of Glasgow and to visitors than Wellington himself ever has," the petition says.

Campaigner Michael Gray was at the statue this morning, wearing a cone-shaped hat, and was glad to hear that the plans had been dropped.

"I think it was a big mistake; 45,000 people have liked a Facebook page campaign to save the cone from the council's decision and there was no consultation. It was just taken from on high by the council but we're happy now that they've backed down," he said.

"It's funny and cheers people up on their way to work and I think that's a good thing for the city. It's difficult to put a price on something like that.

"If they had raised it, I think someone would have just put it back on. It's already quite high so no matter how high it is, someone would just get a bigger ladder."

Mr Gray has organised a protest at the statue for later today, although he said there will now be a change of tone.

"Due to the cone-siderable outcry from the citizens of Glasgow, we organised a protest to save the cone this evening, but it will now be a celebration of the cone," he said.

"I'm sure people will have cone hats and outfits and there will be plenty of cone puns on signs."

Some people outlined their objections to the plan on the online petition.

Jennie Kermode wrote: "As a regular writer of tourist brochures, I note that much of what attracts visitors to Glasgow is the humour of its people. This is not something the council should be ashamed of.''

Lara Davis wrote: "The cone is more of a symbol of the defiant, fun spirit which Glasgow has always embodied and for which it's renowned throughout the world."

But some people supported the council's plan.

Sandy Stoddart, the Queen's sculptor in Scotland, told The Herald newspaper: "Any move to end the tedious, unfunny, irreverent and strangely righteous addiction Glasgow has had to coning the Wellington statue I greet with warmth.

"The single most embarrassing thing about the culture of Glasgow has been the cone on the Duke's head. It is detestable."

Press Association

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